For many people, the day after Halloween is the official kick-off of the holiday season. Lights are out in front of the mall, the stores put their holiday wares front and center, cookie recipes are dusted off, and children pull out a fresh sheets of paper for their wish lists. The season heats up even more on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as people start stressing out over gift lists, school events, and merry-making to-do lists.
For many other people, however, the holiday season is one of a different kind of stress. There is worry about the colder months and the heating bill, about not having enough money for gifts, or getting through the season without a loved one. This season, instead of perusing the “Hot Toys of 2015” lists, why not set a personal or family goal to make it truly a season of giving, rather than receiving?
Popcorn was grown by Native Americans long before the Europeans came to the New World. The Aztecs used it, strung into garlands, in their religious ceremonies. Peruvians toasted and ate their popcorn, which was called pisancalla. During the 1830's, it was "discovered" by American farmers who, using a new kind of plow, planted acres and acres of it during the 1850s. By the turn of the 19th century, popcorn vendors could be found in every big city. They'd sell their wares by the bag or the ball and make a profit of about 70 cents on every dollar!
As every baby who's ever beaten a spoon against her high chair knows, there's nothing more fun than the rhythm of a pounding drum sound. Fast or slow, loud or soft, people around the world use the drum to build community spirit.
Like most families, we have our favorite holiday traditions. We decorate our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and, every year, my husband watches Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. When I was young, my father always read C. Clement Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” to my brother and I. When my son was born, I couldn’t wait to uphold the tradition and searched for the just the right version that offered beautiful, detailed illustrations with a classic-looking Santa. I hope your family has a favorite holiday read aloud. If “The Night Before Christmas” isn’t for you here are a couple of other suggestions; of course there are many more possibilities to enjoy as well.
Bored? Nothing to do? Jump into a cozy picture book on a winter night. Troublesome trolls and a beauty's Beast! Helpful hedgehogs and polite polar bears! Whether you find yourself surrounded by swirling snowflakes or a chilly blue twilight, there are no better companions for winter's frozen brightness than Jan Brett's tales from the European tradition.
Jan Brett knows all about the magical relationship between a book and a reader. "I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books," she once recalled. "Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I'm drawing really exists."
Best known for her Newbery Award-winning books, Jacob Have I Loved, as well as Newbery Honor winner, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson's very personal style of storytelling strikes nerves with her readers, who are able feel her characters' emotions, giving them practice for dealing with life's sorrows. What keeps her books from being simple studies in misery is her ability to find the humor and grace in any situation.
Present-day Christmas conjures memories of snow, lighted trees, cinnamon, gifts, parties, and music. If we lived during the Civil War, what kinds of memories would we have? Would they be of family, food, warmth, and parties, or would they be of just trying to survive and stave off hunger? Would there be presents under the tree, or would we be happy just to be present with our loved ones. To learn a bit more about Christmas during the years 1861-1864, explore the items in the library and the Web sites listed below.
What better way to celebrate the holiday season than by creating a festive — and edible — holiday decoration that has been a Christmas tradition for centuries: gingerbread!
Now's the time to begin making special gifts for families and teachers. Get started by taking a day or two to skim through craft books at the library, or go online and find some ideas. In this article, we've gathered a few neat projects for beginners as well as book and Web site recommendations to help create a crafty Christmas.
Sugar-plums, reindeer, and long winter's naps! How well do you remember this holiday classic? Try our online quiz, and see! Need a little help? The poem is available to read online. Add something special to your holiday traditions - print out a copy to share on Christmas Eve.